Not all sunshine and roses

Most of my posts here have been about all the new great things I’m hearing and experiencing because of my cochlear implant, but I want to be sure that everyone also knows the challenges and issues I’m dealing with as well.  I don’t regret doing it at all, but there are definitely some frustrations.

The phone.  I thought I actually did pretty well on the phone before, given my circumstances.  Right now, my ability to talk to strangers on the phone is pretty much non-existent.  I’ve had some really successful calls with people I know (although probably closer to 70% understanding rather than 100%).  I have not been able to use my work phone at all yet, only my cell, which is a pain because I don’t want to call customers using my personal phone number.  I think this is one of those things that I made a mistake in how things are programmed – I went with what was familiar to me rather than what was recommended, in two cases, both involving the phone.  So my next appointment (end of this month), I’ll get that changed.  In the meantime, I need to find ways to “practice” listening on the phone.  I’m not ready for people to start calling me and having real calls yet – I’ve heard a list of numbers you can call and just listen to things exists but I haven’t dug for it or tried it yet.  I did manage a call with my infusion nurse (on my cellphone) yesterday, but again – I know his voice, so still no strangers.

Music/singing.  I’m still definitely missing something here.  Some music sounds pretty good, and it definitely has more depth than before, but there’s still a lot of “static”.  I’m told this will go away, but it could be 6 months to a year and I’m just now at 2 months.  With singing, my own voice sounds awful to me and it has a tendency to drown out the rest of the music, so I’m then unable to be sure if I’m on the right pitch or beat or anything.  So far, this has just been me singing along to songs either in the car or living room, I have not been brave enough to try anything karaoke or with my computer/piano.  I suspect this can be fixed with some program tweaking.

Speaking.  This is the weird one.  It may be because I am so unused to hearing my own voice, but I’m having trouble picking words to express myself.  A lot of what I’m saying lately is not getting across my intent or what I mean to be saying.  I think this is because I’m focusing so much more on hearing my voice and what it sounds like that I’m not focusing so much on the words – which probably makes me sound less authoritative and like I don’t really know what I’m talking about (okay, sometimes that is actually the case).  I’ve been getting really frustrated in conversations because I don’t feel like I’m expressing myself in the way I mean to.  I got in a disagreement with my husband this morning, and I know a lot of it was because the words coming out of my mouth were not comprehensible in the way I wanted them to be (I really did mostly agree with him).  I’m a big believer in thinking before I speak, but lately speaking has been about hearing, not thinking.

Single-sided deafness.  This one is also a big frustration to me.  I’m so used to being able to hear only in one side, that I was thinking I’d be able to still use just the hearing aid or just the CI – for example, if one ear is infected or fatigued, I’d be able to take off the device in that ear and still do okay.  That is not proving to be the case.  On the surface, it makes little sense as I was always able to survive with just the hearing aid before.  But, as this system is designed specifically to have both devices working together, it makes sense that it doesn’t work as well when one component is removed.  The hearing aid is not programmed nearly as highly as my old one was because I am getting input from the other side.  This is another weird problem that I’m just going to have to get over – being able to hear in both sides is NOT an issue, my brain and habits just aren’t quite used to it yet.  I shouldn’t be thinking in terms of wearing only one device anyway.  And for situations where I can’t/shouldn’t wear the CI, I can always use my old HA  (I plan on sitting in a hotel hot tub this weekend.  I would normally be okay wearing just my HA, but I don’t want to expose the CI processor to that kind of moisture, so I may bring my old one along.  We’ll see if the sound differences I’m perceiving are real or if I’m not remembering what it sounds like – I haven’t used it since Aug 31.)

There are other minor things – a lot of sounds still seem way too loud to me, some even “hurt”, voices (especially women) still have a bit of the Mickey Mouse sound to them, there is a lot of times when the two channels of sound aren’t quite blending into one.  Overall, I’m still really happy, but it is a lot of work to hear still, and I still have a lot of work and rehab ahead of me.  And probably still lots of frustration.

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